With its popularity on the rise, could 2013 be the year that Social TV really takes off into the mainstream? A new partnership between Viacom and Twitter could further that progress along. As CNET describes: “Twitter has signed a deal to begin delivering social video ads built around Viacom’s most popular TV shows.”
And as it’s summer now, which means awards season for Viacom, the timing for this deal seems perfect. Expectations will be high regarding the Viacom’s social TV performance, as it often is based on the network’s track record of success and innovation. Specifically with its MTV Video Music Awards, which tend to dominate social conversation the day its live. And it also owns BET, whose annual awards show surpassed the Academy awards in social viewing last year.
Viacom has always been one of the smarter media 2.0 companies and have carved themselves out as a leader in social TV, including this study. Viacom’s summer awards shows have been used as platforms to pioneer all manner of interesting second screen experiments. “The VMAs are known for creating global, watershed moments in pop culture,” MTV President Stephen Friedman told AdAge’s Simon Dumenco in 2012. “Knowing that our fans are watching the show on television while actively discussing and sharing key moments on social, we’ve created a multiplatform digital ecosystem for those moments to be amplified in real time.”
This brings us to Twitter. In the social network’s own words: “95% of live TV conversation currently happens on Twitter.” Viacom and Twitter are a particularly smart social media fit. In the last few months, in the run-up to their IPO, Twitter has been on something of a tear. In April it achieved a milestone – its biggest ad deal yet, with Publicis’s Starcom Media West Group – as well as making video ad deals with BBC America, Fox and now Viacom.
Award shows, reality shows and sporting events – all of which take place in real time – are particularly attractive in the context of the second screen viewing experience. Hashtags were made for real time events and, of course, dramatic season finales like HBO’s sanguinary conclusion to Game of Thrones this summer. Perhaps no other media company, with regards to its various award show franchises – the VMA’s, BET Music, VH1′s Do Something, TVLand Awards, etc – has taken better advantage of second screen viewing than Viacom.
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Facebook, of course, deserves a mention. The social media giant just got into the hashtag game this week, signaling, vert clearly, that it’s also taking Social TV seriously. And it should. Between 88 to 100 million Facebook users are on the site during prime time hours. Also, a new paper by CitizenNet shows that Facebook engagement leading to the premier of a show correlates to whether or not that user eventually watches the show.
But Twitter already has a head start, and its advertising scope is growing by leaps and bounds. According to eMarketer, Twitter’s global ad revenues are expected to reach $582 million this year, almost double the $288.3 million of last year.
With these things considered, 2013 could very well be the year of social TV, as more social networks invest time and money into pushing it outwards. Especially Twitter, which is set to do well, with its ongoing ratings partnership with Nielsen and its acquisition of Bluefin Labs, along with its upcoming IPO. It could be in an incredible position to take advantage of the burgeoning market.
Of course, time will tell. But halfway through this year, things looks quite promising for Twitter and social TV.
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